While You’re Gone

I’ll take care of things while you’re gone.

I’ll take out the trash on Thursday mornings. I’ll fill up the gas tank. I’ll call maintenance when the water heater breaks. I’ll cook dinner for one (and a half).

I’ll match and fold her too-tight pajamas. I’ll be her audience at bath time. I’ll chase her down and wipe her nose. I’ll go down the biggest, steepest slide at the park with her.

I’ll take care of things while you’re gone, the things you take care of.

Because while you’re gone, the seasons will change. While you’re gone, the pink blossoms on our tree out front will come and go. I’ll chase the mother robin away from building a nest in the front porch light. The grass will fill in green in the bald spots in the backyard. You’ll miss the allergy season while you’re gone (lucky).

But other things will change too. While you’re gone, her feet will get bigger. While you’re gone, she’ll learn a hundred new words. She’ll feed herself with a spoon. Her hair will get longer. She’ll outgrow the clothes she’s in now. Her face will look more and more girlish.

While you’re gone, she’ll steal my phone and lock me out of it at least four dozen times. She’ll throw 100 tantrums. She’ll bonk her head on the coffee table at least once a day. She’ll pull on the doggie’s tail and play in her water bowl like it’s a kiddie pool.

And while you’re gone, she’ll only get to see you on a phone screen. She’ll hear you calling her name through a speaker. She won’t understand why you’re gone until she’s much older.

While you’re gone, you’re gonna miss her like crazy. You’ll miss the tickles and the tantrums, the teething and the toy-throwing, the walks to the park and the dirty diapers.

People don’t take those things into account when they think about deployments.

So honey, I’ll take care of her while you’re gone.

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Genetics or Parenting? How Our Daughter Slept Through the Night at 2 Months

There’s no other way to say it: We are blessed. Blessed with a baby who, like her momma, loves sleeping. Blessed to have had full restful nights of sleep starting when she was around 2 months old. 

Y’all, I don’t claim to have had any influence in this phenomenon. I think she’s just an enigma of infancy. However, if anything we have done in our parenting thus far has actually caused her to sleep like an angel, I suppose I should document our sleep regimen here so I know how to try it again next time around.

No doubt about it, the newborn phase was rough. And we were realistic going in to it. We fully accepted that most parents turn into zombies when they have a newborn. We expected sleepless nights for several months. We expected our marriage to struggle under the weight of new responsibilities. We expected it to be … much harder than it turned out to be. So in a lot of ways, our harsh expectations made it easier to cope when the newborn phase was upon us.

The first week, we were shocked when Adelaide slept for a 5-6 hour chunk at night. They say a number of factors can cause that – she had thrush, she was jaundiced, she had an average birth weight but lost nearly a pound her first week, and breastfeeding was taking a little bit to get going. It wasn’t until the doctor told me I should be waking her up to nurse that I thought I was doing anything wrong.

But she didn’t like being woken up. She wouldn’t nurse well, she was more fussy, it just didn’t make sense to her. Plus she was gaining her weight back just fine. So I followed my wise mother’s advice and chose to just follow her cues. I let her sleep till she woke up, then we nursed. She took a nap every couple hours during the day, and had a nice 5-6 hour chunk of sleep at night. Now, there were some nights, probably during her growth spurt periods, where she was waking up every 2-3 hours, and those were hard. But they never lasted long.

We started a regimen from day one that worked for her. We swaddled her tight, arms in, in a Halo Sleepsack, and rocked/swayed/pat/sang/danced/walked/paced/bounced whatever we could do to get those eyes to close and the paci to fall out. Many nights, I would walk in circles around the house until the furnace kicked on in the laundry room, and I’d go sway with her in there because the loud noise soothed her. We also always had a white noise machine next to where she slept. So once she was paci-out asleep, we would lay her down in the Fisher Price Rock-n-Play, and tuck another blanket around her (the day she was born, it was 8 degrees outside, the girl needed some warmth). Sometimes she would get jostled awake in the transition from arms to bed, so I’d rock the Rock-n-Play for a bit till those eyes closed again.

That was how she slept till she was about 3 1/2 months old. I know a lot of people would scoff that I didn’t crib-transition her sooner, but I’ve been staying with my family out of town while my husband has been deployed these last few months and I couldn’t very well move her entire crib out here with us. Plus with all that transition, I felt the Rock-n-Play was the most comfortable for her at the time, it’s how she slept the soundest.

Forgive me for boasting, but the results speak for themselves. At around 2 months of age, Adelaide was sleeping for 8-9 hours straight, waking to nurse and play for 1 hour, then going back down for another 3-4 hours. 

At 3 1/2 months, she started being able to roll from back to tummy and tummy to back. We noticed she was starting to drift off to sleep while laying flat on her back a couple times. Again, following her cues, we then decided to transition her to sleeping flat in her Pack-n-Play. After about 2 weeks of learning what worked best, we’ve figured out that her best sleep now is swaddled in a Halo Sleepsack, arms out, in the Pack-n-Play – we start her out laying on her back, but she almost instantly rolls to her side or her tummy to sleep. I don’t correct her anymore. Now that she is coordinated enough to get herself turned back if she needs to, I don’t worry about suffocation or discomfort. She puts herself in that position and sleeps. 

So. For people who need lists. Here are our sure-fire sleep-inducers for Adelaide:

1) White Noise – hair dryer, vacuum, car, clothes dryer, furnace, TV, white noise machine, anything loud and consistent keeps her down through the little creaks and squeaks of houses and everyday life (and dogs with loud tails). We even had a portable noise machine for on-the-go white noise to keep her asleep on grocery or car trips.

2) Halo Sleepsack – we tried other brands that people had bought us, but she was always able to get her arms loose and then she’d wake up. Not with the Halo. It is the essential swaddle for dummies. Zip, tuck, tuck, done. The first one we had was the newborn fleece one, nice and thick for winter. Once she outgrew that we got the next size up in the thinner material, works like magic. Until she got through that flailing arms phase, she just needed having the arms tucked tight to sleep.

3) Fisher Price Rock n Play Sleeper – I liked that it was angled and cradled her in. We have a happy-spitter baby, so it put me at ease to know she wasn’t going to choke on her spit while she was sleeping. We also enjoyed that if she woke up fussy, I could often just rock it by hand and she would coax back down. Plus this was a much cheaper newborn sleep option than a proper “bassinet.”

4) Swaying – our girl almost always needs some movement when going to sleep. Whether it’s in momma’s arms (preferable) or in her Mamaroo (which she enjoys about 50% of the time), she just likes being moved. She likes being pat on the tushy and swayed back and forth, sometimes bounced lightly too. During the day, I would sometimes “wear” her in a Baby K’Tan wrap (again, only liked this about 50% of the time) so I could get chores done. The rocking and swaying of moving against me almost always put her to sleep.

The only advice I could give that I believe would work for any baby is to just be creative. If something doesn’t work, adapt and change it up. Try something different, don’t get flustered. If she’s having a day where she will only sleep in your arms, give her that day and try something new tomorrow. Remember, your arms are getting crazy buff holding that little chunker all the time.

And now a video of my absolute favorite part of the day, waking up in the morning to this sweet, warm, heavenly-smelling angel. I’ve never been a morning person in my life, but I can’t wait for this moment every morning with her.

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For the past few weeks, hubs and I have fallen asleep both with one hand on my tummy over where baby is growing. He doesn’t say anything usually but I know we are both praying. Sweet prayers and tough prayers. The typical “God let this baby grow healthy and well with no complications.” And also the “Lord we pray against allergies, we pray against asthma, we pray against generational curses and mental disabilities.” Why not be specific? Ask and you shall receive.

A few days ago my friend and I were talking on the phone and she made a great point about parenting. We were discussing the sickness in parents today who are obsessive over their children to the point where they love them more than they love their spouse or the Lord. She said the thing is, the child isn’t yours. It’s God’s. From the moment it’s born, you give it to God. You surrender this baby to God’s will. You trust and you let go. You put aside your narcissism and obsessive love (both natural feelings) and you accept that this human being is going to have his/her own path in life, and his/her own relationship with the Creator. As parents we can influence and nurture as much as we choose, but at the end of the day, free will is a gift given to everyone. 

Last night hubs and I were talking about how neither of us has really gotten any spiritual connection to the baby so far. Contrary to my expectations, I have no idea who I am carrying. I have no clue as to the gender, or anything else. The only connection I have to it is the fact that I know it’s there because of how my body is changing around it. It’s been a little disappointing.

But hubs brought up a good point. Maybe God is guarding us from feeling a spiritual or otherwise connection to emphasize to us that the baby is His. He is gifting us with the beautiful opportunity to love and call it our son or daughter. As I tried to make sense of it in my head, hubs got a great word from the Holy Spirit:

God is the Gardener. He plans it all out and plants the seed, providing it with everything it needs to grow tall and strong, and bring him glory. We are the sun and the soil. We nurture the plant and see that it follows God’s plan for it as best we can. But it’s not our garden. The garden is only there to bring glory to God.

Definitely rang true in our hearts. #parenthoodiscool